Friday, January 22, 2010

Dreams, dreams, glorious dreams...

I want to write a book!

I can't remember the statistics now, but I heard once that the proportion between people who want to write a book and people who actually do is microscopically small. I looked for numbers on-line, but all I could find were advertisements for ghost writing and websites offering to show you how to write a book in 3 months. As soon as you start telling people that you are a writer (published or not) people say to you, like the cashier at Wal-Mart, "Oh, I've always wanted to write a book." I always find this odd because for me if you want to write a book, you generally end up on a journey to eventually writing one. I've never not wanted to be a writer, so it's just part of me. But this statement that comes from random people would be like me, upon meeting a doctor saying, "Oh, I've always wanted to be a doctor."

So why is writing so different? Why do we all feel as if we can all be writers simply by the act of writing? All good questions, and I'm not sure I know the answers, but I can give you my take on things. I think people assume that simply because they've been reading books their whole lives that they could put one together. I know that when I sat down and started my first book, I just started making stuff up. (which I realize is what you do with any sort of fiction, but there are times when it feels more like you're making stuff up and the rest of the time it feels as if you're telling a story – big difference) It didn't take me long to figure out, I had no idea what I was doing.

There is a great deal of talent involved with telling a good story and creating believable and memorable characters, but more than talent, there is hard work. And just as watching the Discovery Health Network doesn't prepare me to do surgery on your appendix, being a life-long reader doesn't prepare you to write a book. At least not entirely. Writing requires learning and honing just as any other profession. But once people realize this, the majority abandon their dreams of writing.

Sounds sad, but in reality, it mostly means they were just nice thoughts about wanting to be a writer, you know like, "Wouldn’t it be cool if I were a rodeo clown." But most people don't actually become rodeo clowns. Not to disrespect any rodeo clowns who might be reading this blog. But when it comes down to it, you have to want this so badly that you'll put up with a lot to achieve it. No different than my husband working his tail off to earn his Ph.D – hard work and perseverance.

But for those of you who haven't walked away, who have been bit by the writing bug and can't seem to shake the little critter loose, I say to you... Don't give up. Don't be afraid to want it all. Don't be afraid to reach for the stars. (Que: Disney music) Excuse my sappiness, but it's true. And frankly, it's really better advice for the non-writers out there. Chances are if you're on this journey, at whatever stage, you're a big dreamer. And I don't mean that in the, "If you actually think Johnny Depp is going to leave his wife for you…keep dreaming, sister!" I mean simply that, for whatever reason, being a writer seems as attainable to you as being an attorney or a school teacher. It might not always feel like this on the outside, but on the inside, it's all there. And the majority of people are not like this. Which is sad.

Case in point. One of the things that surprised me the most when I first sold was the reactions of non-writers. They were simply astounded that I'd had a dream and actually worked it into reality. They would say, "Wow, you've always wanted it and you just worked hard until you got there." Up until this point, I'd never really considered any other way. I guess I just had good parents because being an author never seemed like an unreachable goal. There were times along the journey where I was uncertain of whether or not I would succeed. I even quit twice (for one day each), but it never occurred to me that this was about dreaming big. It never occurred to me that wanting to be an author was like wanting to be the lead singer of a rock band. To me, that sounds far-fetched, yet some people achieve it because we do, in fact, have rock bands.

(The other thing that surprised me, and still does, was to have someone, upon learning that I'm an author, ask, "Where can I find your books?" To which I always want to give them a snarky reply. Seriously, where do you buy your books? But that's neither here nor there.)

Okay, now I'm just rambling. Blame it on the fact that I've been up since 4:15am and can't seem to go back to sleep. I just love mornings like this! In any case, I hope this makes some sense.

So what are your big dreams? (and did you see that beautiful cover at the top of the post? isn't it so pretty?)


Unknown said...

Thank you Robyn for the push and the encouragement to reach for that dream of becoming a writer. It is hard to push through and learn how to be a good writer. I am learning that now. And there are days I want to just give up and walk away, but it never fails to amaze me that the story keeps coming back and demanding to be told. So I will push on and tell that story that has been nagging at me for the last 11 years. Thank you.

Musings by Mimmi said...

Gorgeous cover!!

I have no dreams of becoming a least not at this point, lol. I've always wanted to travel the world ~~ I figure when I'm old and grey and retired, that I WILL do it!! I want to see Rome, and Ireland, and France...and just be able to go where I want when I get the urge!!
GREAT blog!!

Michelle Santiago said...

my big dream is to save up enough money so that i can move out from my parents' house and go back to school to get my MA degree.

i love that cover! so VERY pretty :)

Robyn DeHart said...

Starcrossed, good luck to you with your writing. It's a scary journey at times, but it's the best job in the world. So keep going!

Melissa, oh travel sounds wonderful. That's a great dream. Be sure to take lots of pictures.

Chelley, an MA degree is a great dream. Good for you!

Nancy said...

What an awesome post. I think I have a remark on my third grade report card about daydreaming. Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone. Yes, that is a gorgeous cover. It makes me drool.